Decolonise, Revive, Transform. Eco-Instigator #17 now online

Eco-Instigator #17 cover

It has been a very eventful year and HOMEF is happy to serve you a menu of key environmental reports. These events cover our work with communities of fisher folks as well as our connections to fishermen elsewhere. As an organisation that treasures knowledge generation and sharing, we keep on learning from our interactions with communities.

The struggle for safe food continues. Our cover story brings you Africa’s first Earth Jurisprudence graduates. See the article Decolonise, Revive, Transform.

Download full edition here: Eco-instigator #17

Stand with Acción Ecológica

accion-ecologicaAcción Ecológica presents evidence 7 PM GMT today on why the government of Ecuador should not shut down the organisation. Join and watch the live streaming by clicking here at that time.

Acción Ecológica is an Ecuadorian ecological organization that has worked to defend nature for 30 years and is also an integral part of the International Federation for Human Rights – FIDH. Acción Ecológica is convinced that it is only by defending the territories and peoples that we can support Nature’ reproduction of life as well as the rights of humans.

The group has been remained strong in the defence of the rights of Nature and peoples despite periodic persecution by authorities. Their work has inspired many activists and communities around the world. They are central to the work of Oilwatch International in pushing for the urgent transition from fossil fuels if we are to avoid catastrophic global warming.

They will not give, because according to then: ‘We will continue defending human rights and nature because “We are like the chaff of the moor that starts and grows again …”.’

As a mark of solidarity, we call on everyone to log on and watch the presentation by Acción Ecológica at 2 PM Ecuadorian time or – 7.00 pm GMT today 6 January 2017.

 

Rising Martyrdom of Earth Defenders

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Eco-Instigator #13 reflects on GMOs in Nigeria, the rising martyrdom of Earth defenders; the upcoming Ogoni clean-up and other critical issues. We bring you books you should read. And poetry!

This edition has two key articles on environmental justice – one is on the rising martyrdom of earth defenders written by Hannibal Rhoades of Gaia Foundation. The second article is on what it means to to fight for environmental justice in the Maghreb. That article is penned by none other than Hamza Hamouchene – an outstanding Algerian activist and writer.

We serve you with reports from the ongoing debates on the genetically modified organisms (GMO) debacle in Nigeria. We also bring you the submission by key activists against gene drive technology to the recently concluded conference of the IUCN.

Ogoni/Niger Delta Clean–up is picking up and there are concerns about the methods of tackling the resurrected militancy that stop Niger Delta. Will wielding the military big stick (Operation Crocodile Smile) solve the problem?

In Books You Should Read, we highlight Living in Fear, by Juan Lopez Villar. It is a book on the unending Wars, conflicts and natural resources in central Africa. It is one book that you should do all you can to read.

Do you have a story to tell? A poem, photograph or an article/report to share? We are waiting for you.

Until victory!

Down load eco-instigator-13 here

The Bite of Biafra

We all BiafransThe Bite of Biafra*

 

The name, Biafra has been around as the name of a bight far longer than the brief moment during which Eastern Nigeria took it on. The Bight of Biafra is that part of the Gulf of Guinea renamed the Bight of Bonny by Nigeria in 1975, possibly in an effort to snuff Biafra out of memory. Some names simply stay stuck even after they may have been dropped officially. Many unyielding street names attest to this phenomenon also. It is a lesson of history.

Current contestations have pushed Biafra in our faces and we simply have to deal with it. Chido Onumah in the title article of his book, We Are All Biafrans admonishes, “while I believe Nigeria is negotiable, I do not think any attempt to negotiate Nigeria can and should be done solely on the basis of ethnic, religious or cultural affinity. That is my position on the Biafran issue.”[1] We agree with him. These cleavages cannot define who we are or under what political architecture we chose to live in.

Earlier in the chapter of the same book titled 2015: Why Buhari matters, Chido writes and I quote:

“The improvement of millions of our country men and women, the wanton abuse of rights, the unmitigated corruption, alienation, internal colonisation and exacerbation of the fault lines of the country, are not issues that the current political order can tackle.”[2]

These fault lines are not only socio-economic or political, they are also physical. They are pervasive and democratically distributed across the land.

Permit me to reiterate that we are indeed all Biafrans. Consider the forces of displacement that pushed some Nigerians into the geographical zone that took that name. Today, the forces may not be the same, but Nigerians are being displaced, marginalised and pushed into conflicts of various degrees of viciousness. There are enclaves of Biafra everywhere in Nigeria. You may not like the name, you may even change it, but Biafra sticks to us like our shadows.

Accepting the inevitability of our identity may well help us to find the glue that would hold us together, or give us the boldness to accept to live together in a state of flexibility. Rigidity often leads to collapse. And that is why forced codes of relationships cannot build trust, solidarity or cohesion. Our fractiousness and selfishness speak to this reality.

The dispossessed, the displaced and the marginalised are found all around us. They are voiceless and easy to overlook. Like vermin, they can be crushed underfoot.

Desertification threatens to swallow up the slim tracts that pass for the heritage of our compatriots. Water stress, including the shrinkage of Lake Chad to less than 10 per cent of the size it had at independence, displaces millions of herders and fisher folks. Toxic effluents from tanneries and sundry industrial outfits and wastes from power plants turn our rivers into adversaries.

The dispossessed, the displaced and the marginalised are found all around us. They are voiceless and easy to overlook. Like vermin, their lives count for little.

Gully erosion challenges the notion of Biafra. It also reinforces it. These huge gullies have literally become insatiable mouths that swallow everything in its path that does not scamper away on time. Farmlands, homesteads, sundry infrastructure disappearing before our eyes.

The dispossessed, the displaced and the marginalised are found all around us. They are voiceless and easy to overlook. Like vermin, they should be glad to have the earth provide them graves.

Some fellow countrymen and women think they can hide away under trees in thick forests, living with nature and communing with other species, our relatives. But we need superhighways with internet backbones; we need shopping malls and we need top notch hotels. Highways chalk up cheap political points for making first, second or third year anniversaries. So, deforestation defrocks forest communities. Who needs monkeys or chimps when we can make ourselves spectacles for the rich.

The dispossessed, the displaced and the marginalised are found all around us. The are voiceless and easy to overlook. What is the purchasing power of a forest dweller? What do they add to our GDP?

Coastal erosion and subsiding lands. Sea level rise. If the guns cannot silent dissent, these will swallow them up. Add unrelenting pollutions and infernal gas flares and we will soon be pumping fists of victory in the toxic air.

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The dispossessed, the displaced and the marginalised are found all around us, and our challenges can be traced to similar roots. Games of power and reckless exploitation and accumulation. One powerful truth is that the oppressed in one are the same as the oppressed in the other. That defines our all being Biafrans. Being pressed into the borders called Nigeria, we ignore that pressure at our peril.

We could push ahead in fear or hate. We could also choose to sit together and deliberate on how to ease the shocks, overcome the odds, build love and solidarity and introduce some flexibility that considers the possibility of the bight in the Biafra in which all Biafrans live. It is a choice. Inaction may shut the bight but usher in the bite of Biafra.

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*A reflection by Nnimmo Bassey on Chido Onumah’s We Are All Biafrans- A participant-Observer’s intervention in a country sleepwalking to disaster. The book was presented at Shehu Musa Yar’Arua Centre, Abuja, on 31 May 2016

 

 

[1] Onumah, Chido (2016), We Are All Biafrans, Lagos, Parresia Publishers Ltd, p.162

[2] Ibid p.10

In Defence of Life – a new Documentary by Gaia Foundation

In Defence of Life“It’s about grabbing a part of the Earth and placing a mark of ownership on something that actually owns you. It doesn’t add up.”

In this interview poet, Earth Defender and Right Livelihood Award Winner Nnimmo Bassey challenges the assumptions at the very root of the mining industry- that we need to and should mine more. Discussing the vast damage and poverty oil extraction has brought to his home country of Nigeria, Nnimmo argues that even the most ‘responsible’ mining operations leave behind irreparable harm. His message is that, though it seems unthinkable to many, we must move away from an extractive relationship with the planet. Watch Nnimmo’s interview here: vimeo.com/155553521

This interview accompanies In Defence of Life, a documentary that follows the trials and triumphs of four communities fighting back against mining giants. Watch it here: vimeo.com/162669257

Filmed by Jess Phillimore
Edited by Joseph Lambert
For The Gaia Foundation

From Gaia Foundation

IT IS TIME TO CREATE ANNEX 0

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Proposal from Oilwatch International for COP21, Paris, December 2015

The purpose of this document is to present the commitments and efforts of the peoples, nationalities, and communities against the extraction of oil, gas, or carbon, as a contribution to avoid climate disaster.

In addition to these commitments, we present our petition to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and member governments to recognize, respect, promote, and protect these actions as a goal to protect climate and life on the planet.

Group Annex 0: A way to recognize and respect real commitments and efforts

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, executed at the Rio Summit in 1992, divided member states in two groups: Annex I that included industrialized countries of the North plus such countries with economies in transition; and Non Annex I that essentially included the countries of the global South. Later came Annex II that included the members of Annex I that were obliged to provide financial and technical resources to allow the countries of the South to undertake activities to reduce emissions and perform adaptation initiatives. Oilwatch states that, since the nineteenth century the capitalist development drive for the countries of Annex I and II has been carbon, oil, and gas exploitation, and that they have done everything in their power to stop any decision that may lead to specific and binding actions to reduce the consumption of these fossil fuels. After more than 20 years of international negotiations, global warming continues in rise with no effective and real solutions to stop it.

In this scenario, one of the obstacles has been the direct influence that corporations linked to fossil fuels have on the Convention’s decisions. At present this corporate sector is part of the promoters of false solutions that aggravate greenhouse effect rise, such as the carbon market, agrofuels, REDD, geo-engineering, and oil technologies such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), among others. Simultaneously, they expand their territorial scope to the so-called new frontiers: deep seas and “non-conventional” deposits where the malignant fracking.

If this were not enough, the limited vision of the United Nations, focused on promoting negotiations between parties, which are states, has allowed the northern industrialized countries not to comply with their climate obligations, while in unfair and neocolonial scenario, such responsibilities are transferred to the peoples and nations of the South, when it is precisely this side of the world that has the majority of nations and subnational regions or localities and, above all, indigenous peoples, peasants, and traditional fishermen and communities that are striving to protect the climate – although they are the most affected by climate change. The peoples’ initiatives are being neglected and, in many cases, criminalized, although their efforts to stop fossil hydrocarbons extraction should be awarded.

We can see that, in practical terms, besides the national states, there are other decisive stakeholders with capacity and interests in accelerating the transformations required to protect global climate that must be acknowledged by the Convention on Climate Change Convention, for example, the indigenous peoples and nations, provinces, states, or subnational regions or localities that have taken sound steps against hydrocarbons extraction from the ground. Therefore, Annex 0 Group must be created to include these peoples and territories because they are resolving the causes of the problem: the addiction to fossil fuels.

It is time to focus on the problem’s determining causes

It was mainly after World War II that the industrial bases of a capitalism addicted to fossil fuels and a culture based on an endless, extensive, expansive and destructive energetic and material consumption pattern was consolidated. Highly oil-consuming large-scale mining and industrial agriculture expanded as part of this model. This addiction to fossils is not only affecting the climate, but is causing degenerative and lethal diseases to millions of peoples, flooding the planet with non-degradable waste, and exterminating hundreds of traditional cultures – by displacing healthy and ecological uses and customs – and it continues generating economic, social, political, environmental crisis aimed to capital expansion and accumulation. An institutionalized and global capitalism with the most decadent and lethal features demands a global action to confront it.
Meanwhile the corporate and financial sectors decide how much, where and what type of oil is extracted, sold and at what price, and based on the incapacity of “traditional” oil deposits of supplying the exponential demand of concentrated sectors, the industry, and governments, lately they have advanced with the so-called “non conventional” extraction. With more expensive and degrading techniques, such as fracking, they seek to keep the dependency on fuel oils, strengthen the accumulation process, the appropriation and dispossession of territories, and violation of the rights of the peoples.
Leaving oil and other fossil fuels in the subsoil is the most direct and concrete way of achieving results related to climate, as well as to confront capitalism, the exploitation of human beings, and privatization of nature at the global level.

What metrics, scenarios, and models should we work with?

The member states of UNFCCC set the goal of adopting a new global agreement on climate change in Paris 2015. The rhetoric says that is aimed to keep the planet from exceeding the warming limit of 2°C in relation to preindustrial temperature. This limit allegedly sets the line between a changing climate to which we can adapt and a climate unbalance of unforeseeable and irreversible consequences.

To reach this figure, both UNFCC and the experts of the Inter-Government Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have always used carbon dioxide concentrations as a standard measure stating emission reduction but not the amount of fossil fuels that should not be extracted. Talking about amounts of oil, gas, or carbon would enable visualizing the responsibilities and necessary actions to prevent a climate crisis.

According to official figures, to reach a maximum figure of 2°C in temperature (IPCC scenario RCP2.6) by 2100, at least 2/3 of the known oil, gas and carbon reserves should remain in the soil. Therefore, of the 1,700,000 million barrels that are still in the ground, 1,190,000 million should remain there; of the 187 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, 131 trillion should not be extracted; and of the 892,000 million tons of carbon, 624.000 should remain in place. The goal now is to decide where and how to start leaving them in the soil. By using these figures we are not attempting a merchandisable quantification or evil equivalences in the environmental services market or other ways of commercial compensation, but a way of determining the magnitude of the efforts needed for a post-oil civilization.

This means going from a centralized large-scale energy production model to models with cleaner, renewable, decentralized, diverse, sovereign, and ecological energies. To this end, there is a need of changing the concept of energy, which includes knowing what type, how much and who needs it, as well as a reflection on energies in the territories and for the peoples.

Protection, recognition, and incentives for the countries, nations, subnational spaces, localities, and territories of Annex 0

The initiatives qualified as part of Annex 0 must be protected and supported with a series of international incentives and recognitions based on solidarity, unattached technological exchange, and the existence of an ecological debt associated to climate. The creation of Annex 0 will also incentivize new commitments and specific efforts focused on confronting the decisive causes of climate change.

The indicators for these initiatives will be:
1. Fossil hydrocarbons maintained in the ground
2. Forms of life based on a respectful dialogue with the natures
3. Struggles against carbon and other mining due to their effect on the climate and for consuming elevated amounts of fossil fuels
4. Steady steps towards a debate on the type of energies required – for what, for whom, how much – and on the exercise of sovereignty of the peoples and territories
5. Repudiation to mechanisms such as carbon market, REDD+, and other false solutions to climate change
6. Clear commitments to non-extraction and emancipation from fossil fuels by the peoples.

ADVANCE TOOLS

Protection of the peoples and territories:

• Stop the criminalization of whoever promotes leaving oil, gas, or carbon in the ground, and active advocates of land and territories against fossil fuel extraction.• Stop the intervention of corporations, State repression systems, and invasion of territories for fossil hydrocarbons extraction in places where the local population rejects it, areas appointed as natural or highly fragile reserves.

Recognition through an international award:

• for whoever makes sound steps against hydrocarbons extraction in their lands and territories;

• for whoever keeps sovereign energy and food models that do not depend on fossil fuels and respect nature.
Incentives such as:
• technological exchange
• forms of contribution and direct support observing sovereignty, with good-faith dialogues and no transfer of responsibilities.

Counter-incentives such as:

• withdrawal of State subsidies to industry related to fossil fuels

• divest in shares, bonds, or investment funds linked to oil.

INTERNATIONAL CALL
IT IS TIME TO COMMIT TO THE PEOPLE!

OILWATCH states that no country is really ready to support a catastrophic climate change. Additionally, the nations that suffer the worst consequences contribute less to global warming, and frequently take strong measures to stop it. We believe that the time has come for the United Nations to confront the climate crisis by creating Annex 0 in the Convention on Climate Change, as a group of the peoples or nations acknowledged for their contributions and as an incentive for others to join the mission of leaving fossil hydrocarbons in the ground. We’ve had enough talking about abstract things like CO2 emissions – let’s talk about oil, gas, or carbon, join the commitments of Annex 0, and make efforts in our organizations by supporting these initiatives and resistance initiatives and struggles.We require the United Nations, the national governments, and social organizations and movements to acknowledge, protect, and disseminate true commitments and efforts that contribute soundly to prevent climate disaster!

OILWATCH July 2015